Completing the ASEAN list: Manila & Taipei 28 April – 1 May 2012
After visiting Brunei last August (seen in the trip report Abode of Peace), I was down to my last country in ASEAN. Although the Philippines is not the hardest of countries to get to, I haven’t found a reason or an opportunity to visit before now. Its reputation isn’t the finest and to be honest I was still apprehensive about safety in Manila.
But the record (of visiting every country in ASEAN) was there for the taking and I couldn’t resist. Using the BMI’s generous redemption rules, I added SIN-MNL on SQ J on my DAC-SIN (via BKK) ticket. The extra sector cost me an additional S$80 or so; pretty great value IMO although this route is served only by SQ’s old regional J.
I chose the outbound to be on 28 April 2012 morning (SQ 910) and took leave on 30 April to create a long weekend courtesy of Labour Day. Initially my plan was to visit Boracay but return air tickets from Manila got too expensive (due to my procrastination in booking them).
Then I check out what Cebu Pacific Airlines has to offer and found a great deal. The MNL-TPE flight on 29 April was all of 1615 PHP (S$48). 5J 310 would depart MNL at 10.40pm and arrive at TPE at 12.40am; not the most ideal of timing but I wouldn’t complain with the price.
Earlier I had used BMI miles to redeem HKG- SIN- DME for my trip on Trans-Mongolian in June. Since I didn’t fancy making another trip to HKG, I decided to change the redemption to TPE- SIN- DME instead. The change fee and the difference in taxes came up to be close to 80 GBP (S$162) and my return flight from TPE would be on SQ 879, the latter of the two daily SQ flights between TPE & SIN.
Like my previous trip (to Dhaka), there would be a total of three flights.
28 April SQ 910 Dep SIN 09:30 Arr MNL 13:05
29 April 5J 310 Dep MNL 22:40 Arr TPE 00:40 (+1)
01 May SQ 879 Dep TPE 17:45 SIN Arr 22:10
Booking accommodation always provides me with more headaches compared to settling the flights. It took quite me quite a while to do my research; my night in Manila would be spent in Tune Hotel Ermita (1143.24 PHP or S$35) and the two nights in Taipei would be in Hope Hotel (1100 TWD or S$49 per night).
With all that done, I was only left with deciding where to go. I didn’t know much about Manila but would probably at least try to visit Intramuros. Taipei was easier though since two of my friends would be in Taiwan too and I could leave the planning to them.